Regional accreditation is a term used in the United States to refer to the process by which one of several accrediting bodies, each serving one of six defined geographic areas of the country, accredits schools, colleges, and universities. Each regional accreditor encompasses the vast majority of public and nonprofit private educational institutions in the region it serves.
Regionally accredited schools are predominantly academically oriented, non-profit institutions. Nationally accredited schools are predominantly for-profit and offer vocational, career or technical programs. Every college has the right to set standards and refuse to accept transfer credits. However, if a student has gone to a nationally accredited school it may be particularly difficult to transfer credits (or even credit for a degree earned) if he or she then applies to a regionally accredited college. Some regionally accredited colleges have general policies against accepting any credits from nationally accredited schools, others are reluctant to because they feel that these schools' academic standards are lower than their own or they are unfamiliar with the particular school. The student who is planning to transfer credits from a nationally accredited school to a regionally accredited school should ensure that the regionally accredited school will accept the credits before they enroll in the nationally accredited school.
List of Regional Accreditors
The following are the regional accrediting agencies for educational institutions in the United States:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools - Educational institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as schools for American children in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Search for schools.
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges - Educational institutions in the six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Search for high schools. Search for colleges.
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools - Educational institutions in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Search for high schools. Search for colleges.
- Northwest Association of Accredited Schools - Primary and secondary schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Search for high schools.
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities - Postsecondary institutions (colleges and universities) in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Search for colleges.
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges - Educational institutions in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia, Palau, and Northern Marianas Islands. Search for high schools. Search for community colleges. Search for colleges.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools - Educational institutions in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. Search for high schools. Search for colleges.
Each regional agency has full accrediting authority for both grade schools (primary and secondary) and colleges (postsecondary), with the exception of the northwest region, for which responsibility is divided between two separate accreditation agencies (NAAS for secondary schools, NCCU for colleges).
Other Approved Organizations
Independent high schools who are full members of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Search for independent high schools.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) maintains a list of organizations that work cooperatively with WASC. Schools that work with these organizations will be considered accredited by the University of Oregon.